Trip to Houston

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What can I say?  I had a great Spring Break.  Friday night, my husband and I went to see Yacht Rock at a bar in Buckhead.  Do you know how long it has been since I have been out?  Especially in Buckhead: a major meat market for 20-somethings (and maybe 30-somethings). I cannot describe the crush when we were downstairs with the unwashed masses.  Finally, we made our way upstairs to a balcony overlooking the band.  That is where all of the other “old people” were… The band was great, though.

The next day, I left on an afternoon flight to Houston to visit a friend of mine.  She has the cutest little house in the Heights – the cutest little neighborhood in Houston.  We went out to eat – left planning to go one place and ended up at another.  We tried this trendy place called Max’s Wine Dive.  What a concept: expensive glasses of wine with upscaled “dive” food: Fried chicken, hamburgers, “meat loaf”, mac ‘n’ cheese.  God, I wish I had thought of it!

On Sunday, we went out to brunch with another friend – I had requested dim sum. Instead, a new South African restaurant was suggested for brunch.  It is called Out of Africa.  I have a friend who is spending the year in Johannesburg.  I would love to visit, but I’m afraid that the airfare would be a killer.  So I will have to take my South African experiences wherever I can.  It was pretty good – I really liked the bobotee.  The terrace was the perfect brunch spot – not too hot, not too cool.

As a surprise, my friend bought me a ticket to see Les Miserables at the Theatre Under The Stars.  It was particularly meaningful because Rob Evan was playing Jean Valjean.  I used to be friends with his mother when I was teaching in Monticello, GA.  I met him before he was “my son, Rob Evan – the actor/singer” (that’s what she called him).  He was also quite an event and hunter/jumper rider.  Okay, I am pretty sure I have seen Les Miz before, but did not remember anything at all about the plot.

I did a lot of sleeping late – while my friend was out walking in the morning, I hung with her two dogs, “the Fluffies”, teaching them bad habits, like jumping on the guest bed.  Monday, we went to International Boulevard to have Mexican food.  We ate at a little taqueria (Casa de Leon), where I had tacos de birria (goat, I think).  Afterward, we stopped at an ice cream place – appropriately called La Michoacana.  I had a coconut paleta.

Does it sound like we did a lot of eating?  I’m not done.  That night, we went to Anvil Bar and Refuge.  It’s a new bar run by four hard-core former bartenders.  Everything is homemade and prepared to exacting standards.  They specialize in old school cocktails, like “the sidecar” – I didn’t want that.  After looking at the daily specials, I decided upon a drink called a “Dark and Stormy“.  It was a combination of Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Ginger Beer (they brew their own, adding a little Thai chili for spice…), and lime.  It arrived in a beautiful squat old-fashioned glass filled to the brim with uniformly crushed ice, with a slice of lime and a straw.

I took a sip of my drink, and pondered.  My friend took a sip, and also was quiet.  Finally, we discussed what it tasted like.  My guess was an incense shop.  My friend went with “inside of my grandmother’s purse”.  Bingo.  I joke – after a while, it kind of grew on me.  My second order was a caipirinha – the cachaca was smokey, and there were perfect little clear cubes of ice.  Beautiful.  These guys cure their own olives, macerate their own cherries (my friend had one on her Metropole), and toast their own hazelnuts, I guess.  Check it out when you are in Houston!

On my last day, I went shopping on 19th Street in the morning.  It’s a lot of fun.  I spent a lot of time at Casa Ramirez, and came out with some cool stuff.  The owner is really nice, and we had a good conversation.  He is somewhat of a local expert on Mexican culture and gives talks and tours of Mexico for Day of the Dead.  I also spent a lot of time at Grace Hart and Company – a flea market-like shop with lots and lots of stalls.  It was fun.

Before I went to the airport to catch my flight, we went to Oishii – a sushi restaurant – and to Berripop, one of those new-fangled yogurt places. It was all very good and light.  It was so much fun to get out of town – I forget how big a city Houston is!  Bigger than Atlanta!  One of the best parts was that, coming back on Tuesday night, I still had five more days of vacation left to spend at home.

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